WFDC2 is differentially expressed in the mammary gland of the tammar wallaby and provides immune protection to the mammary gland and the developing pouch young

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Abstract

WAP four disulfide core domain 2 (WFDC2) is a four disulfide core (4-DSC) protein secreted in the milk of the tammar wallaby. It is comprised of two 4-DSC domains assigned domain III at the NH2-terminal end and domain II at the COOH-terminal end. The WFDC2 gene was expressed only during pregnancy, early lactation, towards the end of lactation and involution. The WFDC2 protein showed antibacterial activity against Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella enterica and Pseudomonas aeruginosa and this activity resided with domain II. There was no antibacterial activity detected against Enterococcus faecalis. The observed expression pattern of tammar WFDC2 and its antibacterial activity suggests a role to either reduce mastitis in the mammary gland caused by S. aureus or to protect the gut of the young at a time when it is not immune-competent. The latter effect could be achieved without disturbing the balance of commensal gut flora such as E. faecalis.

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